The best compliment an umpire can get is when no one talks about his performance. Unfortunately, IPL-12 saw several decisions by the officials being scrutinised and slammed through the tournament.
Technology may have helped reduce umpires' howlers but it is also exposing their blunders which otherwise would have escaped criticism. Earlier, a missed no-ball or a wrongly adjudged wide received no more than a shrug or a wry smile from the affected party. But with the mistakes being shown on giant screens within seconds after it has been committed, umpires have no hiding place now. On-field umpiring is a tough job but then so is a cricketer's.
That someone as calm as M S Dhoni stormed onto the field to confront umpire Ulhas Gandhe over the withdrawal of a no-ball call against Rajasthan Royals showed players' growing frustration at officiating. While Dhoni crossed the line to behave in that fashion, it did underline the fact that umpiring in this edition was certainly not up to the mark.
Generally, it had been the Indian umpires who would cop flak for their poor decision-making but this time even ICC Elite Panel officials from England and Australia committed some howlers. And shockingly, ICC Elite Panel umpire Nigel Llong even damaged a door of the umpire's room in a fit of anger here at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium following an argument with RCB Virat Kohli over wrongly adjudging a Umesh Yadav delivery as no-ball against SRH.
Despite a complaint by the host association KSCA, the BCCI retained Llong as the TV umpire for the final.
This wasn't the first instance of Kohli losing his top over umpiring gaffe. During their home match against Mumbai Indians, umpire S Ravi failed to notice a big no-ball by Lasith Malinga off the final ball of the chase with RCB seven short of the target. An irate Kohli blasted Ravi saying IPL isn't club cricket and that umpires should have their eyes open.
His opposite number Rohit Sharma echoed the same sentiments. "These kinds of mistakes are not good for the game of cricket, it's pretty simple. The over before that (Jasprit) Bumrah bowled a ball which wasn't a wide (but it was called a wide). Those are game-changers," he said, reflecting the players' resentment over the quality of umpiring.
The final too wasn't shorn of umpiring errors. In the Mumbai innings, Nitin Menon refused to declare Dwayne Bravo's third delivery of the final over a wide despite the ball being at least a couple of inches outside the guideline and Mumbai batsman Kieron Pollard not shuffling too much from his original position. An incensed Pollard tossed his bat in frustration and withdrew from the strike after positioning himself to face Bravo on the guideline off the next ball.
The big Caribbean cricketer was rightly fined 25 percent of his match fee but the incident once again demonstrated that players -- irrespective of their high standing -- weren't hesitant to confront umpires and that doesn't augur well for the game.